Weekly Pulse: Rand Paul, DIY Opthamologist


This article was originally published by The Media Consortium, of which RH Reality Check is a member organization.

Rand Paul, the Republican senate candidate in Kentucky, is a freewheeling libertarian. Instead of getting some fancy board-certification as an ophthalmologist, Paul decided to “go Galt” and make up his own credentials. Paul founded the National Board of Ophthalmology, ostensibly to certify doctors as qualified eye specialists.

The NBO is run out of Paul’s home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Paul is the president, his wife is the vice president, and her father Hilton Ashby is the organization’s secretary. Normally medical boards sponsor rigorous exams to ensure the highest professional standards in their respective specialties. “I can’t tell you what the organization does,” Ashby told TPM.

It takes a rugged individualist eye doctor to found an entire medical board just for himself and a few friends. When you think about it, it’s kind of hypocritical of Paul to hold a state-approved medical license. If he were a true libertarian he’d found his own medical board and let the free market decide who’s a “real doctor.”

FDA cracks down on DNA tests

The mean old FDA has ordered that companies offering so-called over-the-counter DNA testing prove that their products actually work. Libertarian Alex Tabarok is outraged. He argues that if the tests don’t actually harm anyone, the government shouldn’t restrict them.

At the American Prospect, Tim Fernholtz replies that the FDA’s decision is just common sense. If a company is claiming to provide medical information, the onus is on them to prove that they are informing the public accurately. Besides, even if the test itself is harmless the results of the test could have life-altering consequences.

Michael Mechanic reports in Mother Jones that one woman became convinced that she’d been the victim of a hospital baby mixup when a over-the-counter DNA test showed that her son wasn’t hers. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones applauds the FDA for getting involved but wonders aloud whether over the counter DNA testing is really that much different from astrology or other dubious prediction methods that are perfectly legal and protected by the First Amendment. Should Magic 8-Balls be allowed to market themselves as pregnancy tests? Signs point to no.

HIV in the Motor City

Former White House staffer Van Jones is raising the alarm about HIV in Detroit, as Todd Heywood reports in the Michigan Messenger. HIV rates in Brooklyn and Washington, D.C. have garnered national headlines, but the crisis in Detroit has gone largely unnoticed. Over half of the zip codes in Detroit report HIV prevalence rates of at least 3%. In the most severely affected zip codes, 6% of the population is HIV positive, an infection level on par with Uganda.

Modeling Christian behavior

A self-proclaimed Christian school in Florida fired a pregnant teacher because she admitted to conceiving her child three weeks before her wedding. Jaretta Hamilton was fired from Southland Christian School for telling the truth about premarital sex, Joseph DiNorcia reports in RH Reality Check. By all accounts Mrs. Hamilton’s job performance was fine. Instead of bearing false witness, she answered an intrusive question truthfully. Apparently the school felt it was more “Christian” for Hamilton’s baby to be born to an unemployed mother. Hamilton is suing for discrimination.

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  • squirrely-girl

    Rand Paul is NOT a Libertarian. We don’t claim him and he’s said as much himself. Anybody who would support a Constitutional ban on anything is NOT a Libertarian (he would support this for abortion). He might be better described as libertarian-leaning but he eschews significant and fundamental concepts within the Libertarian ideology.

  • sweett

    I’m a Kentucky blogger. We’ve been following Rand Paul and his candidacy for ~1 year or so. I have never seen a cult of personality such as his. He was once the anti-establishment non-politician candidate, and campaigned as such. Now he and his supporters are doing a total 180, abandoning whatever questionable principles they had in the first place. I wish Jack Conway would ramp up his campaign and he’d appeal to KY grassroots and netroots for support. So far, he just seems to be doing a whole lot of nothing. :(

  • faultroy

    For the record, I have no dog in this fight.  I am not a supporter of Rand Paul.  However the article above does a great job of slandering Paul for obstensible political purposes.  It is deceptive, misinforming and a personal attack.  If the author is interested in this kind of activity, that is her perogative and I support it, but it certainly is not credible Journalism.  For the record, Paul is has been certified by the older Board, but according to him, he has a poliitical issue with the Board of Directors.  According to him, the members of the older association felt that only YOUNGER MEMBERS needed to be recertified, and that their skills are far superior than is what is taught by the more updated research hospitals–since they feel they are too advanced to be bothered with recertification.  So the question one has to ask is : “would you rather be treated by an old doddering doctor whose skills may be  40 years behind the times, or would you rather be treated by a doctor with all the most advanced medical knowledge that any speciality has to offer?”  There is a lot to be said in favor of experience.  But there is also a lot to be said about keeping your skills–any skills–razor honed.  The point is if you want to attack someone because of their political persuasion, that is perfectly fine, but at least be accurate…Oh by the way, for most adults, Stephen Colbert is not considered a credible Journalist–he isn’t even “Board Certified.”